Review: Kerry Ellis at The London Palladium, May 12

Kerry Ellis at the London Palladium. Picture: Francyne Carr

Kerry Ellis at the London Palladium. Picture: Francyne Carr - Credit: Archant

Kerry Ellis at The London Palladium, May 12

Kerry Ellis with Queen guitarist Brian May at the London Palladium. Picture: Francyne Carr

Kerry Ellis with Queen guitarist Brian May at the London Palladium. Picture: Francyne Carr - Credit: Archant

Suffolk-born West End star Kerry Ellis realised a life-long ambition at the weekend when she headlined her own show at The London Palladium. It was a commanding performance which, by the end, had the packed theatre on its feet cheering for all its worth.

Kerry Ellis at the London Palladium. Picture: Francyne Carr

Kerry Ellis at the London Palladium. Picture: Francyne Carr - Credit: Archant

It was a night which showcased the breadth of her musical taste as well as both the power and the subtlety of her performance. She looked very much at home on the Palladium’s wide stage.

Kerry kickstarted the show with a powerhouse rendition of Diamonds Are Forever, which she covered on her Anthems album, and followed this with a trio of other Bond themes Goldfinger, Live and Let Die and Skyfall to mark the film series’ 50th anniversary.

One of the joys of watching Kerry perform is that she is very good at talking to audiences and building a bridge between the stage and the auditorium.


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During the evening, she took us on a journey through her career so far – revisiting the shows which made her name, My Fair Lady, We Will Rock You, Wicked, Oliver and Les Miserables – singing some of her favourite songs from those shows but also taking the chance to perform numbers that she never got to sing.

Highlights for me included I’m Not That Girl, I Could Have Danced All Night, On The Street Where You Live, As Long As He Needs Me and I Dreamed A Dream.

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Half way through the evening she made a powerful bid to be cast in the next production of Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s Tell Me On A Sunday when she sang a trio of numbers from the show including the title song, Take That Look Off Your Face and Unexpected Song which brought the audience to its feet. It was truly a virtuoso performance.

Kerry was joined on stage by some old friends, most notably by long-standing musical director and arranger Craig Adams and Queen guitarist Dr Brian May.

During an acoustic middle section Kerry and Brian showcased some new material including I Who Know Nothing before ending with a rocked up Crazy Little Thing Called Love.

Craig gave the evening a fresh, lively feel with his thoughtful, yet breezy, arrangements of some well-known numbers. His masterstroke was to include The Bergersen String Quartet in the band, who supplied some beautiful colour and added texture to the material.

It wasn’t just show tunes either. In addition to the James Bond medley we also got a tribute to Michael Jackson and a nod to fellow Suffolk songsmith Ed Sheeran.

Kerry proved that she can hold a large audience in the palm of her hand. One moment she is provoking cheers and whistles of approval for her powerful delivery and the next, there is hushed silence as she moves you to tears with an intimate reading of her We Will Rock You anthem No-One But You.

While Kerry’s soaring vocals seemed effortless, it was clear that an awful lot of time and planning had gone into this dazzling event. Everything from the staging, lighting (the hanging light bulbs were inspired) and the song choices had been well thought out.

Kerry saved the best to last with a stunning version of Wicked’s Defying Gravity in which she was joined by three other Elphabas her successor Alexia Khadime, fellow three year veteran Rachel Tucker and the current incumbent Louise Dearman.

It was a triumphant evening and the good news is that there is already talk of taking this show out on the road sometime next year. I certainly shall be queuing for tickets.

Andrew Clarke

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